Scholarships for ASEAN Students from Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Myanmar
Scholarships for ASEAN Students from Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Myanmar
Addressing the gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education


Some countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have a low technological capacity and limited opportunities for advanced education and graduate studies in science, technology and innovation (STI). The ASEAN Secretariat notes that education, as a long-term investment, contributes towards skills formation, thus increasing the ability to work and to produce, which ultimately contributes to economic growth. In Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Myanmar (CLM)chronic underinvestment in education is an issue that has yet to be fully addressed. Since the global workforce is undergoing a shift from being labour-intensive to being more skills- and knowledge-basedthe bar is higher for the skill sets to adapt to current innovative developments. The promotion of science, mathematics and engineering in the CLM region is vital in the region’s socio-economic and human resource development to scale up the capacity of ASEAN as demanded by the contemporary needs of the ever-changing region. 

Towards a Solution

This scholarship programme aims to share STI knowledge and skills through degree program with CLM and other ASEAN Member States to contribute to the efforts in addressing the gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. In addressing the above challenge, the Government of the Philippines, through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), initiated a scholarship programme for MSc and PhD, to generate an advanced pool of CLM scientists and engineers who will be able to contribute to their respective country’s development after they finish the programme. The objective is to promote human resource development in engineering and sciences for sustainable socio-economic development of the ASEAN region, particularly in CLM. This initiative contributes to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4 (Quality education), targets 4.3 and 4.b, which place an emphasis on globally expanding the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular in engineering and scientific programmes, in developed and other developing countries. 


More specifically, the project aims to: 

  • implement high-impact STI activities aligned with the ASEAN Plan of Action on Science, Technology and Innovation (APASTI) 20162025, the National Science and Technology Plan (NSTP) and the Philippine Development Plan (PDP);  
  • attain a critical mass of graduates with MSc and PhD degrees;  
  • upgrade the qualifications of practising engineers and scientists;  
  • upgrade the quality of science and technology research and make graduate education in the field accessible; 
  • develop a culture of research and development. 

The initiative is also clearly aligned with SDG 17 (Partnerships for the goals), target 17.6, which aims to “enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to STI and enhance knowledge-sharing on mutually agreed terms”. 


The DOST of the Philippines initiated the scholarship programme by sending correspondence to the Philippine embassies in CLM for the dissemination of information and scholarship collaterals such as invitations, brochures, and pamphlets, including its guidelines, to possible applicants. The embassies disseminated the call for scholarship applications through their local networks and through the local science and technology ministries. Applicants were requested to initially submit documents for review, after which successful applicants were interviewed by the DOST and staff at the local embassy. The active monitoring of the scholars’ academic performance measures the effectiveness and quality of education received from Philippine universities, showing a successful transfer of knowledge and good practices to CLM. The programme to date has supported a total of 25 students (14 MScs and four PhDs for Batch 1; and six MScs and one PhDs for Batch 2) who are pursuing degrees at Philippine universities in different fields of engineering, health, science and mathematics. 

As of 2020, in the programme consists of a total of 17 male and 11 female studentsEighteen Batch 1 students are in good standing status, i.e. they are able to maintain the academic requirements of the universities where they are enrolled. Batch 2 consists of ten students. 


The students regularly report to the DOST-Science Education Institute (SEI). They are all provided with financial assistance in the form of stipend, as well as a relocation, books and transportation allowances for their first academic year without any restrictions. The Batch 1 students are still attending their second year of studies and some are expected to graduate before the end of 2020. 


DOST-Science Education Institute (SEI) support the students as follows: 

  • through regular visits or meetings at the universities, emails and phone calls;
  • by immediately responding to their academic needs, such as endorsing the Project Leader of the university for temporary accommodation, enrolmentstudent visa processing and financial assistance; 
  • by providing regular academic guidance and advice. 

The project is sustainable due to the continuous commitment for socio-economic development of the ASEAN region, particularly CLM. The ASEAN Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation (ASEAN COSTI) sectoral body has been prioritizing human capital development through the establishment of scholarship programmes, among others. The ASEAN COSTI developed a mechanism that supports similar current and future programmes that could be replicated by any interested ASEAN Member State and that may also be proposed to ASEAN Dialogue Partners. Progress is reported at the biannual regional meetings held by ASEAN COSTI. 


The project may be replicated either through bilateral or triangular cooperation. In a bilateral cooperation, a country may offer scholarships to least developed countries, Small Island Developing States and African countries (such as in SDG 4.b). In a triangular cooperation, an international or regional organization may be the mediator, which would be similar to the role of ASEAN in this initiative. 


This initiative can also be replicated in the form of short-term certificate or training courses. The focus of the project should be in the best interest of the countries involved, specifically in identifying the field of expertise that it aims to consider and the specific type of student, researcher and/or expert it targetsFinally, the scope of project shall also be aligned with SDG target 4.b, and must encourage the enrolment of women in the courses offered. 

Contact Information

Name: Dr Josette T. Biyo, Title: Director, Organization: Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – Science Education Institute

Countries involved

Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines

Supported by

Department of Science and Technology - Republic of the Philippines

Implementing Entities

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – Science Education Institute

Project Status


Project Period

2017 - 2021

URL of the practice

Primary SDG

04 - Quality Education

Secondary SDGs

10 - Reduced Inequalities

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